How can you improve your website traffic? Try imagining it’s a cute little puppy dog.

Yes… seriously!

With a wagging tail and those deep, pleading eyes, it’s just begging you for more attention.

Now ask yourself: why aren’t you giving your puppy a treat?

If you don’t have a solid internal linking plan, you’re ignoring the needs of your website.

What is internal linking?

Okay, so your website’s not going to piddle on the floor if you neglect it, but it’s also not going to give you the same value as it would if you treated it with a system of internal linking.

What exactly is internal linking? As the blog at Moz describes internal linking: “In layman’s terms, an internal link is one that points to another page on the same website.”

Let’s have a look at how you use internal linking.

So, you’ve written a nice article or blog post that’s sure to draw readers. Great job! But, before you hit “publish” you likely do a set of additional tasks like checking your keywords and double-checking for typos. Add creating internal links to this process.

This step is really a small matter of tweaking:

  • First, scan your content to see if you mentioned a topic of another article.
  • Include a hyperlink to that article.
  • Slide in a call-to-action sentence that directs the audience to read more.

As you become comfortable with interlinking, you’ll find yourself naturally writing them into your initial drafts. They’re a great way of offering readers supporting information to better present your topic.

For SEO-boosting purposes, be sure your hyperlinks contain keyword-rich copy. For example, internal linking tips would make an SEO-friendly link to this article. While you’re at it, optimize your article for repurposing by creating these 5 things to get more mileage out of your message.

Clearing a path for spiders

Internal linking goes beyond just making your readers happy. There are also audience-driving benefits that don’t involve reading.

Consider your silent friends, the search engine spider that crawls through your site, making note of the content and categorizing your pages. Quite often, websites having complicated architecture with deeply buried pages give spiders a difficult crawl, and page results suffer.

A search engine’s goal is to rank the top pages of any particular topic on the web. Internal linking boosts the search engine’s goal by using the pages of your website to team up and share the juice of a particular topic. To get some deeper insight into the world of SEO, view our Lunch & Learn presentation “Making Search Engines Work for You.”

In effect, they talk to each other in the language you want them to talk. When the content of your site crosslinks, it creates more connection points of similar content for your spider to catalog.

How many links should you include? The jury’s out on what’s acceptable – as evidenced by this awfully ambiguous statement from Google: “Keep the links on a given page to a reasonable number.” From a usability standpoint, it’s my opinion that you don’t want to overwhelm the reader with choices. I say 2 to 5 works, depending on the length of your article.

The easier the path through your website – for readers and spiders – the better.

Prolonged session for users

Let’s get back to the puppy analogy for a second. Puppies don’t know they’re being cute. It just comes naturally. Luckily for them it’s a great way of getting attention.

Similarly, the practice of internal linking should come naturally because your website was born to do one thing: help the reader. When done well, you can help people find the information they’re looking for, quickly, and put good use to your knowledge and information.

Through internal linking, you are guiding users through your website in an efficient manner, taking them from one topic of interest to another.    

A common method that works great for accomplishing this is the article series. It’s a group of posts that focus on a particular topic that, if a user likes one, it’s more than likely they’ll be interested in reading more.

You’re getting people to hang out and stay awhile, and that’s the best kind of attention you can feed your website.

Tight knit network of pages and posts

A final benefit to internal linking is that it improves the navigation of your website. When like-minded content is linked together you’re creating a more logical structure to your website.

This not only makes your user experience better but also makes life easier from a site management perspective. Maintaining and updating content is much easier when topics are linked together.

One last tip for using internal linking on your website is to close your article with a call to action, as in: “if you liked this post then here’s another post on maximizing your SEO.”

That’s it friends. Treat your website well, and it will be your best friend for life.

Takeaways from this post:

  • Before publishing, scan your content for common topics for internal linking
  • Consider creating articles in a series that keep readers’ attention for more than one post
  • Create internal links by adding a reader call-to-action

Please email me if you’d like to discuss ways to boost your website traffic, or tweet me questions or comments to @LiquidJeff.

Jeff Doubek

About Jeff Doubek

Jeff Doubek is a Digital Content Strategist at Liquid focused on developing and executing content plans as part of the broader UX strategy for website redesigns, and supporting the creation and execution of content strategies for integrated digital marketing campaigns. Jeff is also a lifelong competitive sailboat racer and youth racing coach.

Published Jan 08, 2016